By and large, keyboard shortcut changes suck. Mature tools are like musical instruments, and you don’t go moving the piano keys or cello strings without a great need to do so. It’s painful. We know.
Sometimes, though, a little pain enables much better things. In the CS4 release, we have made some improvements that result in a few shortcuts needing to change. First, the improvements:
Photoshop is now consistent with both Mac & Windows shortcuts for switching among open documents. The Mac-standard Cmd-~ (technically Cmd-`) now cycles from one open document to the next. Adding Shift cycles in reverse order. These shortcuts work on both Mac & Windows. In addition, Photoshop continues to support Ctrl-Tab/Shift-Ctrl-Tab on both platforms, just as it always has, for the same function.
The app is now consistent with other Suite tools (Illustrator, InDesign, Flash) in setting the zoom level to 100% via Cmd-1/Ctrl-1. (PS will continue to support the existing Cmd-Opt-0 as a duplicate shortcut.)
You can drag-resize any brush cursor by holding down Ctrl-Opt (Mac)/Alt-right click (Win), then dragging. Add Cmd (Mac)/Shift (Win) to the combo to adjust brush hardness instead of size.
People doing video work in Photoshop strongly requested single-key shortcuts for moving among frames. You can switch these on/off via the "Enable Timeline Shortcut Keys" command that lives in the Animation panel fly-out menu.
Photoshop supports what we call spring-loaded shortcuts, enabling you to jump from any tool to any other temporarily.
Some of these enhancements necessitate some other changes. This all gets pretty esoteric, so I’m putting the nerdery into this post’s extended entry. Read on for that.
Now that Photoshop CS4 is shipping, let’s talk extensibility.
By and large, your existing plug-ins should work just fine with CS4. Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes reports that when it comes to PS on the Mac and PS on Windows running in 32-bit mode, "Our in-house testing proved early on that with very rare exceptions, ‘if it worked in CS3, it works in CS4.’" Developers like onOne and Digital Anarchy have already issued statements of CS4 compatibility, and I expect more to follow.
If you’re running Photoshop in 64-bit mode on Windows (Vista 64 or XP64), you’ll need updated, 64-bit-native versions of your plug-ins. (The 64-bit version of Photoshop can’t host 32-bit processes, and vice versa.) We’ve been providing documentation to plug-in vendors for many months, and the 64-bit-savvy CS4 SDK is publicly available for download. I expect vendors to be trying to gauge the level of interest in 64-bit versions of their tools, so if you’re in that camp, you might want to give them some friendly encouragement.
Photoshop on Windows consists of two binaries (one 32-bit, one 64-bit) which can be installed in parallel as completely separate applications. This means you can use the 32-bit version to run older plug-ins while waiting for them to go 64-bit-native.
Support for running SWFs as panels represents a development renaissance for Photoshop & the Creative Suite. It’s never been possible to create panels for Photoshop in the past*, and developing for other apps meant learning different APIs and writing different code for each. Now you can create cross-platform, cross-application, non-modal, vector-based, network-aware extensions using Flash or Flex. This is going to kick serious ass, and the Photoshop Developer Center now features the Photoshop Panel Developer’s Guide. Look for more examples and documentation soon.
If you’re a developer and have questions, feel free to drop Bryan a line so that he can point you in the right direction.
*Unless you were a really clever developer like the guys at Nik Software–and they’re the first to say “Oh yeah, that was awful”; now it’s possible in an easy, reliable way.
Tom Hogarty has posted some brief notes about Camera Raw 5, now shipping as part of Photoshop CS4. He writes,
One important note is that the new camera support added in the last Camera Raw update for CS3 is not currently available in Camera Raw 5.0. We’ll be providing a Camera Raw 5.1 update next week that will include additional camera support.
By now you’ve probably heard me talk manytimes about our desire to better manage the complexity and power of Photoshop. The very general interface that Photoshop presents is incredibly flexible, but it can be overwhelming, and it doesn’t do much to show you just what you need when you need it. We can do better.
It should be possible to:
Make Photoshop “everything you need, nothing you don’t”
Navigate Photoshop as task-based pieces (think workspaces on steroids), each showing only what you need for the task at hand
Let anyone remix the Photoshop UI to fit their needs
Make it drop-dead easy to share these remixes
Adobe Configurator (screenshots 1, 2), a new utility that’s due to ship on Adobe Labs around the end of the month, is a key part of our strategy. Configurator makes it easy to snap together your own Photoshop panels (a.k.a. palettes). Think of Configurator as a box of Legos–an app that lets you drag and drop all the tools and menu items in Photoshop, call actions & scripts, and add widgets (images, videos, other SWFs, etc.). I’ve posted a 10-minute demo on Russell Brown’s site. (If you don’t have QuickTime installed, you can watch it on YouTube as well, though the compression quality there is pretty abysmal.)
We’ve shown a beta of Configurator to members of the press & have been getting great responses:
Imaging Resource: “Dead easy. But we expected it to be easy. What we didn’t expect was just how useful the little panel we built would actually be.”
TG Daily: “[I]t is very intuitive to use and enables users to integrate virtually any function of Photoshop in a custom panel.”
Outback Photo: “We personally love the new Adobe Configurator 1.0… Using the new Configurator is as easy as gets.”
We’re putting the finishing touches on Configurator right now, so look for it on Labs in the next few weeks. [Update: It’s live now!] (I’ll of course post news about it here.) We look forward to hearing your thoughts & using your feedback to move the tool forward.
[Updates: Sorry, I forgot to mention that Configurator requires Photoshop CS4. It’s building on top of the Flash panel extensibility system that’s new to CS4. We wanted to make sure people could create for that system without having to be coders. If you do write ActionScript, however, you can go much further using Flash and/or Flex. You can create independent SWF panels, and you can incorporate your SWFs into Configurator-made panels via drag and drop, just as easily as I added an image in the demo.]
PS–If you’d like to be able to configure other applications (Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Fireworks, etc.) via Configurator, please make a little noise. We’ve designed the tool such that the other apps just need to supply an XML file that lists their menu items plus the associated scripting commands, as well as PNGs for their tools. Hearing your interest would help the PMs of other apps raise the priority of supplying those assets & testing Configurator.
In addition to the Bridge resources mentioned yesterday, Julieanne Kost has posted some detailed overviews of Camera Raw 5.0 and the rest of Photoshop CS4:
ADOBE TV The Complete Picture – Episode 08
Let Julieanne show you the power behind the new features in Camera Raw 5. Discover how to make non-destructive localized corrections as well as create special effects using the Adjustment Brush, Graduated Filter, Post Cropping Vignettes and more!
In this cycle our goal was to unlock the power of Bridge. Bridge was already a highly capable, feature-rich application, so instead of slathering it with new features, our first task was to get more people to discover and use what’s there. That meant changing the bang for the buck: raising the discoverability & usability of existing features while lowering the barriers to use (speed, launch time, memory usage). We also wanted to add some key features that would help photographers while broadening the appeal of Bridge for all creative professionals–things like Web gallery creation & upload, and PDF contact sheet creation.
Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost hast posted a great 30-minute tour of the new version:
A couple of folks have written to ask whether it’s possible to upgrade from Photoshop CS3 Extended to Photoshop CS4 (the non-Extended version), or whether once you’ve bought Extended once you can only buy Extended in the future. The short story is that you have a choice.
It turns out there’s an oversight in our pricing and upgrade mechanisms, and CS4 pricing materials don’t list a way to go CS3 Extended->CS4 standard. We’re working to get that corrected now. You’ll need to call Customer Service if you’d like to go down this route, but you might want to wait a few days for them to get the details squared away.
Ultimately, if you choose to buy Photoshop Extended, we want it to be because it’s the version that you’ve determined best fits your needs–not because you don’t have options.
Edison’s bit about genius–maybe now we’d say innovation–being “1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” is as true now as when he coined the phrase. Put simply, it sometimes takes a hell of a long time to get things done. Whatever the reasons, it’s worth celebrating when you’ve finally sweated your way to victory.
Flash Panels for All
Eight years, man. Eight freakin’ years it took me to get Flash panels into a mainstream app. In summer 2000 we cloned the Flash Player, then used it to let scripters extend the LiveMotion authoring environment (dropping in new panels that could build animations, draw shapes, etc.). Two weeks after becoming the first app to ship such support, however, we got cancelled. (Flash and other Macromedia apps introduced their own support soon after.)
I put the vision on ice until 2005, when we learned Adobe was acquiring Macromedia. A few days later I met Macromedia CTO Kevin Lynch at an event and said, “I know we can’t discuss anything non-public yet, but do you guys offer any documentation about embedding the Flash Player?” Since then I’ve ranted, cajoled, browbeat, and wheedled to bring this support to Photoshop and the rest of the Suite. It got to the point where PS engineers said I’d have to put five bucks in a swear jar each time I brought up “the F word.”
You may be skeptical about the impact and merit of Flash panels, but I predict you won’t be for long. No one will care about it as a feature per se. They’ll care when we start using it to do really interesting things–making the Suite UI dramatically more flexible, tying community and collaboration into the apps, delivering better features faster through shared code, and more.
The Photoshop Nation, Inside Photoshop
Once you have a lightweight way to make an application skin network-aware, all kinds of interesting things can happen. I’ve always wondered why, when there are millions of active Photoshop users, you’re on your own inside the app. Why can’t we make it ridiculously easy to add your knowledge to the tools, and to benefit from others’ wisdom? We’re at the threshold of making that a reality.
Flash & After Effects Love Each Other
Back in 1999, long before I came to work here, I started lobbying my contacts at Macromedia and Adobe to create something I called the “Flash Interchange Format”–some XML representation of at least the basics of an animation (object name, position, scale, etc.) so that I could use Flash and After Effects together. Unfortunately Flash remained locked to the inscrutable FLA format.
Now Flash is moving to XFL (no, not the one with pro wrestlers playing football). By dusting off some code we wrote in ’01 (I know, I know–move on already), AE has enabled XFL export for Flash to import. InDesign also exports XFL, and the format should enable much greater integration with Photoshop and third-party apps in the future. Vindication.
Flash Gets a Real Timeline, More
Suffice it to say I’m very, very pleased to see Flash CS4 to add a more After Effects-style approach to animation, complete with editable automatic motion paths, animation presets, control over individual parameters, and much more. I always believed Web animators deserved these things, and now they’ll get ’em. Check out Lee Brimelow’s video demo for a great run-through. [19-minutes]
It’s a long road sometimes, and it never ends. I’ve planted seeds over the last ~30 months that’ll still take years to bear fruit. (Cue Cake’s The Distance…) But dammit, I’m not just whistling Dixie, and we’re going to make things happen come hell or high water. Always outnumbered, never outgunned.
Postscript: I hope the text above doesn’t come off sounding too self-congratulatory. I’m sure that plenty of other people thought of and requested the same things I’ve wanted, which is why we’re now seeing these features become reality. And just as Flash is doing things that LiveMotion introduced years ago, Photoshop is introducing some features that have long been in Fireworks, Painter, etc. The key thing, of course, is that the features get to the customers who need them, by hook or by crook. That, at the end of the day, is the whole reason I came to Adobe.
Among the comments on my list of details polished in Photoshop CS4, a number of people wished for a similar list for Illustrator & suggested that the Illustrator team start a blog. As it happens, my friend & former Illustrator PM Mordy Golding runs the great Real World Illustrator blog, and he’s posted some illuminating resources:
Illustrator CS4 – The Facts is a pretty comprehensive round-up of what’s new in this release. (The Appearance panel is killer–everything I always asked that it be.)
In the past I’ve said "I swear because I care," and caring a lot about Illustrator, I’ve directed some well-intentioned swearing in their direction over the years. I distinctly remember sitting at my desk at Agency.com some nine years ago and hearing a (long since departed) Illustrator PM dismiss my request by saying, "Oh, customers don’t want multiple pages." (At that point I started wondering, "Now, is it still murder if it wasn’t premeditated, and can I claim temporary insanity…?") That’s why I’m delighted that they’ve both addressed some eternal requests (yay, multiple pages–er, artboards!) and have polished lots of existing functionality. As Mordy writes,
In the past, Illustrator had a reputation of adding new features, but never really going back to refine them in subsequent versions (i.e.,gradient mesh, 3D, brushes, graphs). With an improved Appearance panel, more capable graphic styles, a revamped gradient feature, better clipping mask behavior, isolation mode, and Smart Guides in CS4, it’s refreshing to see the team adding much needed polish to some of these "older" features.
The more I’ve played with the new Illustrator, the more I’ve found the "little" changes to have a big impact. I think you will, too.
A few comments I’ve received from curious readers (plus the occasional enraged wingnut ;-)) indicate a small point of confusion: some Mac users believe that document windows in CS4 on OS X use non-standard red/yellow/green “gumdrop” widgets for closing, minimizing, and maximizing documents. They do not. I just used Snapz Pro to compare the widgets in Photoshop to those in iTunes, NetNewsWire, and other apps; they are identical. Just thought we should clear that up.
Adobe’s own Russell Preston Brown has posted a number of new video tutorials demonstrating features in Photoshop CS4. He’s taken a particular shine to the 3D features in Extended. Russell writes,
Content-Aware Scale: Once you learn about this new, intelligent, scaling technology in Adobe Photoshop CS4, you’ll be tempted to never use the standard Transform tools again. Russell Brown says, “This new feature is down right amazing!”. Check it out!
Spherical Panorama: Learn about one of the new 3D features in Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended. In this tutorial you will discover how to wrap any image around the inside of a sphere, to create a panorama. Then simply step into this digital space and use some of the new CS4 tools to look around your new world.
3D Quick Look: Get ready for an incredible 3D experience, as you view this quick-look at some of the new 3D features in Adobe Photoshop CS4. This tutorial will take you through some of Russell Brown’s favorite new tools for working, and experimenting, with 3D objects.
3D Mesh from Grayscale: Bring 2D images back to life with this new Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended technique for converting grayscale images into 3D objects. This tutorial will also demonstrate how to generate 3D depth maps directly from the image itself.
3D Eclipse Animation: Learn about some of the advanced features in Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended for animating 3D objects. In this project we will create a solar eclipse simulation from 2D images of the earth and moon.
Meanwhile my fellow Photoshop PMs Bryan O’Neil Hughes & Zorana Gee offer some solid overviews of CS4 via Adobe TV. Bryan gives a 10-minute quick tour of the meat & potatoes features, while Zorana focuses on what’s new in Extended, including direct painting onto 3D objects.
I’m a perfectionist, and I deeply, viscerally want to smooth & polish every aspect of Photoshop. Doing it all in any one cycle is impossible, but I’m proud to say we’ve put a ton of effort into sweating the details in CS4.
You’re going to see tons of flashier features in other write-ups, and of course I’ll cover them here, but for this cycle I want to lead with the little stuff–things you might not read about otherwise, but which can make a big difference while working. Read on for the details. Continue reading →
Former Illustrator PM Mordy Golding has posted a detailed overview of AI CS4. (At first glance I didn’t think they had a lot planned for this rev, but dig a little detail and you’ll find a lot to like. I say this as a very long-time Illustrator user.)
Deke McClelland has posted CS4 Buy Or Die, “a sassy, no-holds-barred, is-this-thing-worth-buying-or-not review.”
The cat is officially clawing its way through the bag: Adobe has announced that the next version of the Creative Suite will be announced* just three weeks from now, on September 23rd. The company plans to host a webcast (for which you can register here) covering the new product line-up at 1pm Eastern time Tuesday the 23rd. Meanwhile we plan to show off a few more bits tomorrow morning at Photoshop World, so perhaps some interesting info will make its way online.
*Announcing an announcement–getting very meta, eh?
So, what’s Adobe up to interface-wise in the next versions of Creative Suite applications?
We’ve been working hard to make the interfaces of the various apps more consistent. Because the Adobe Fireworks and Dreamweaver betas are available on Adobe Labs, you can now see some of the interface changes that will appear in the next version of Photoshop as well. I’d like to address some of the concerns and questions I hear bubbling up. In particular, I hope to put Mac users’ minds at ease about a few things.
First, I want to lay my Mac bona fides on the table. I’ve been using the platform since Sept. 1984, and I really sweat the little details and conventions. (That’s one reason I’ve raved about NetNewsWire, Panic’s Transmit, and other great Mac apps.) I use Safari instead of Firefox in part because FF’s use of Windows-style buttons & form elements feels alien on my system. So yeah, I care deeply about this stuff.
As the CS3 product cycle was wrapping up, Adobe’s user interface designers started showing their ideas for subsequent releases. Lots of things (tabbed documents, improved panel management, more usable workspaces, etc.) seemed like slam dunks. On the other hand, the designs all featured a prominent "application frame"–a window containing both UI elements & documents–on both Mac and Windows.
I think my initial reaction can be boiled down to three letters: "WTF?"
"Are you telling me," I asked, "that we’re going to put a huge, battleship-gray box into the background on the Mac, as it is on Windows? Why would we do that?"
The designers pointed out that the app frame has a number of advantages:
It facilitates N-up (2-up, 3-up, etc.) document layouts that adapt as you adjust the interface. Think "live window tiling"–great for comparing, compositing, etc.
It makes it easier to move the entire application and its contents, including from one monitor to another.
It prevents documents from getting obscured by panels (palettes).
It blocks out the contents of the desktop, minimizing visual clutter. (A number of Mac users have requested this option for many years. I’ve known quite a few people who open a small blank document, hit F to put it into full-screen mode, and then put it into the background to hide the desktop. Willingness to live with that kind of hack demonstrates some genuine desire for a real fix.)
On the Mac (unlike on Windows, where an app frame has always been present), using the app frame is optional. It’s a one-click enable/disable via Window->Application Frame. On either platform you can also float documents above the app frame, mixing them with docked windows if you’d like. Whether on Mac or Windows, you can resize application windows by dragging any side, not just the lower-right corner.
I’ve recorded a quick demo that shows the app frame enabled & disabled; documents in & out of tabs; and some of the N-up layout options available with or without the app frame enabled:
After I’d used the app frame for a little while–well, what do you know? I like it, and not because they pay me to say so. It’s easy to flip the frame on and off, but I find that I like the way it reduces distractions. Your mileage may vary, and that’s why we made using it an option.
The app frame has brought to light the questions of what is & is not considered "Mac-like." This inspired me to do a little investigation into the state of Mac software.
It’s interesting to note that showpiece Mac apps like Scrivener and NetNewsWire feature the ability to run in full-screen mode, blocking out the desktop and other distractions. Panic’s Coda Web development tool is among those combining interface and content into a single window.
What about Apple’s own applications, as they would be presumably be the definition of Mac-like, right? I noticed a couple of things:
The pro video apps (Final Cut Pro, Motion, Color, DVD Studio Pro) configure their windows/panels to take over one’s screen completely.
Aperture and iPhoto put all the UI into a window & optionally take over the screen in a dedicated full-screen mode.
The iLife and iWork apps (Keynote, Pages, iWeb) all feature a UI approach that marries together content & interface in a single window. (For reference, here’s a little gallery of all these apps.)
And so, I’d argue, putting UI + content into a single, manageable window (as the CS4 app frame does) isn’t "un-Mac-like" at all. Despite my initial freak-out (the one being echoed by others when seeing an application frame in Fireworks), you could argue that the application frame makes Adobe tools more Mac-like–if "Mac-like" means "Apple application-like."
I’ve also heard comments about the new Adobe apps’ custom interface elements and their ability to resize windows by dragging them from any side, not just from the lower-right corner (as required in most Mac apps). On Daring Fireball John Gruber characterized this capability as "just like in Windows." Digging a bit more, I fired up Final Cut Pro 6.0 and made some discoveries:
You can drag-resize panels and document windows from any side, not just from the lower-right corner.
The close/minimize/zoom buttons are extremely small; they always appear monochrome (instead of respecting the OS appearance preference of Blue vs. Graphite); and they don’t show a dot in the close box of files with unsaved changes.
The UI is full of unique elements that don’t appear elsewhere in the OS–e.g., custom scrollbars sitting next to OS-standard ones.
I then took a look at Motion. Again scrollbars are custom (though different from Final Cut’s), remaining monochrome regardless of OS appearance preference. Application windows can be resized individually and together from any side, though with more apparent limitations than in FCP. Things are similar in DVD Studio Pro, where you can resize what amounts to an app frame from any side.
Instead of "just like in Windows," "just like in Apple’s own apps" might be a better way to put it. In any case, whether the convention exists elsewhere is beside the point. The point is, Is it useful?
As I wrote earlier, I believe Adobe teams need to work hard to make their products feel like polished, native citizens on each OS. Deviation from the norm for its own sake is unhelpful. Having said that, OS conventions should support innovation, not stifle it. If we can improve functionality (e.g. enabling more flexible document resizing) without imposing any burden (extra UI chrome, etc.), why shouldn’t we?
Our job is about functionality, not ideology. Whatever works best, wins. Obviously the Apple development teams feel free to depart from strict adherence to the baseline OS when they feel that doing so would benefit their customers. I’d argue that Adobe teams should have similar latitude.
Now, at the end of the day, will we ship with the application frame visible by default on the Mac? I don’t know; maybe not. We want people to feel invited–not forced–to use the new functionality. No matter how much I write here–and thanks for reading this far–some Mac users are going to have the "WTF" reaction to the application frame. Hopefully they, and you, will keep an open mind until you’ve gotten to try it out. I think you’ll find–as I did–that there’s a lot to like.